Stephanie was a kind-hearted three-year-old with pig-tails and a smile that lit up the room. It all changed when Stephanie started coming to Head Start with her hair down. The teacher found bruises on the back of Stephanie’s neck, the childcare center made a mandated report and a Social Worker got involved.
The constant fear of physical abuse took its toll on Stephanie, and she began kicking and biting her classmates. Stephanie’s behavior deteriorated until the center asked her family to find a new care provider. That’s when her Social Worker requested a court order for Stephanie to attend A Child’s Haven.
When Stephanie was admitted to A Child’s Haven’s Therapeutic Child Care Program, she exhibited extreme anxiety and would physically lash out when Therapy Providers tried to touch her or even stand nearby. She was wary when anyone stood behind her and was quick to whip around with a punch or kick if she felt crowded.
During individual therapy sessions, ACH Family Support Counselors discovered Stephanie was being abused by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. The bruises were the latest in a long line of unexplained injuries and the abuse intensity was escalating. The Family Support Counselors shared this information with Social Services, and Stephanie was removed from the home.
Stephanie’s behavior began improving almost the day she moved in with her aunt and uncle. At first, she was suspicious of physical contact in any form and kept to herself, but before long Stephanie was playing with her friends. Her smile returned, and so did her pigtails. After eight months of treatment at A Child’s Haven, Stephanie was able to return to mainstream childcare and her aunt and uncle have become her legal guardians.
Stephanie’s story could have taken a much darker turn if the signs of abuse were ignored. The fact that her exposure to this trauma was limited helped speed her recovery, but Stephanie will carry these experiences with her the rest of her life.
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